Malaria sufferer calling for more funding for vaccine

WHEN Sarah Kirk was working as a volunteer in one of the biggest slums in Africa, she fell seriously ill after catching malaria.

The antimalarial medication the Marrickville resident was taking was not effective and she remembers feeling like her bones were on fire and how the energy was sapped from her.

“My body was excruciatingly sore. I could feel where each individual bone was in my body. It was that painful,” she said.

To mark, World Malaria Day on April 25, Ms Kirk wants Grayndler federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese to support an increase in funding to discover a more effective vaccine to combat the disease.

The 30-year-old, who is a Global Health Campaigns manager at RESULTS International, said it was frustrating that it took three courses of treatment to eventually get rid of the disease, but she was lucky to recover.

“Despite the fact that malaria has been around for centuries there is still no effective vaccine to tackle the disease,” she said.

“An investment of $50 million in medical research, which includes malaria, will go an enormously long way in ending the disease in our region once and for all.”

This month, a new breed of mosquito was discovered in Mozambique, which is causing unprecedented cases of malaria prevalence and mortality.

The disease is spread by an infected female Anopheles mosquito, which is also commonly found in Northern Australia.

Malaria can cause flu-like symptoms and vivid hallucinations. Extreme cases of malaria can cause severe headaches, diarrhoea and fevers, which can also cause the victim to fall into a coma and die.

In March, a Senate Committee reviewing the foreign aid program recommended that the Government increase investment in its Medical Research Strategy to $50 million per year.

Published in The Inner West Courier on April 24, 2014.